A single map update for a sat nav that’s built into a car can cost nine times as much as an update for a portable sat nav, our latest investigation has found. So is everyone better off buying off-the-shelf sat navs?
The crux of our research implies they are.
Not only were we quoted extremely high prices for single map updates from dealers, we were also given conflicting information about what the updates included and how you perform the update itself.
Wild variation in update prices
One BMW dealer, for example, quoted us £175 for an update to a BMW 5 Series satellite navigation system, telling us we could perform the update ourselves using a special code.
However, for exactly the same car, a different UK dealership quoted us £375, claiming the software update had to be carried out at the garage by a technician, which was included in the overall cost.
One Nissan dealer initially told us a sat nav update for a Note MPV would cost £8, only to inform us it would actually be £156 when we phoned back to double check the price.
And one Volkswagen dealer quoted us £220 for a one-off update to a Golf sat nav, and then advised we’d be better off upgrading to a new Kenwood system, at the price of £998!
Are built-in sat navs really worth it?
With portable sat nav manufacturers like Tom Tom, Garmin, Navigon and Mio offering navigation updates for anything between £40 and £80, it makes me question if it’s really worth the additional cost of having a built-in sat nav and keeping it up to date.
However, there are good examples from our findings. And these come from the most modern of systems we inquired about. Like the 2011 Toyota Yaris, which most dealers informed us could be updated at no additional cost.
And with portable sat nav manufacturers now joining up with carmakers to offer their systems as built-in options, like the Fiat 500’s TomTom navigation, you shouldn’t have to pay any more than you would to update one of their portable offerings.
There are some benefits to having a sat nav that’s built into your car as well. They’re much more secure and difficult to steal, offer better sound quality through the car speakers, and can make some high-end cars easier to sell on later.
But is this enough to warrant the high price of having them in the first place, and the cost and hassle of keeping them up to date, when portable versions are much more cost effective?